This course studies how bioart blurs distinctions between science and art through the combination of artistic and scientific processes, creating wide public debate. It explores the history of biotechnology as well as social implications of this science.
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This week in class we learned and experienced the piece Brainstorming, which uses EEG waves to control the color of the lights within an octopus crown. It examines how the brain waves of two people facing each other change and if they can become synced, creating the same color in each crown. I thought it was very interesting to try and get people’s brainwaves to be in sync and wondered if by performing some sort of task together, it would reveal either how people think differently in collaborative situations or how people think the same when working together.
This week, we explored the idea of pairing two people up with discrete thoughts and beliefs and having these individuals sync up their brainwaves through conscious effort. The first thing that I connected this to was a video that I had seen on Youtube, where two separated individuals were seated across from one another and the woman confronted her ex-boyfriend about why he had cheated on her (Glamor Magazine).
This week we took part in Brainstorming. What struck me most were the lights and how much they control the ambience when the room is dim. I’ve always had a fascination with lights and definitely feel the effect they have on mood. It is well known that light indeed has scientific mood and behavioral effects (Bauer). Besides the lights, I really liked the project and the literal interpretation of “brainstorming”.
My zodiac sign is pig, which is lucky because I thought the pig was one of the most interesting animals we discussed as part of the zodiac art piece. I had no idea how ubiquitous pig parts are in everyday products that extend far beyond food, from soap to bullets!
I was born in 1993, so my relation to the pig (as a zodiac symbol) is a distant one. Christien Meindertsma's talk on the usefulness of the pig was incredibly interesting to me. I always wondered about the amount of waste produced in the meat industry. By this I mean in the use or lack of use of all the different body parts of an animal. It comforts me to know that pigs are the used in so many products. If you could imagine a world without pigs, would even a quarter of these products exist? Would they be as efficient or useful to us?
Growing up I have never heard of the Chinese zodiac, and I had no idea what it was. IT sounded interesting when I heard it for the first time in this Bio-art class, and I was very surprised when so many people raised their hand in response to the statement: “raise your hand if you know your Chinese zodiac.” When I heard we were going to talk about it, I immediately looked mine up, and turns out I am an Ox.
As discussed in lecture and after reading the readings and viewing the video Ted Talk, I find the zodiac animals, specifically the monkey, to be very intriguing. The monkey is the ninth of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac cycle. Even more interesting is that the monkey years are all multiples of 12. Thus those born in a year that is a multiple of 12 are designated as monkeys ("Year of the Monkey - Fortune, Career, Health, and Love Prospects in 2017" 2017). Famous monkeys include Leonardo da Vinci, Tom Hanks, and Will Smith.
In the world of physics, there is a well-known joke involving the tendency for physicists to simplify everything into a "Spherical Cow in a vacuum."
The snake has been at the forefront of the human experience for centuries and centuries. From being one of mankind's greatest fears, to serving as our guardians, the snake definitely has a unique history. In class, the snake came up through our discussion of the Chinese Zodiac. With snakes comes an immense amount of symbolism, and furthermore, ties to artwork, which I will be discussing in this blog post.
When I was in the third grade, my teacher, Mrs. Ballard, taught my class a lesson about the Chinese Zodiac. I listened with fascination as she listed off exciting, courageous animals, like the dragon and the tiger, and adorable creatures, like the bunny and the horse. I remember feeling disgusted and disappointed upon learning that my birth year, 1995, corresponded with the year of the pig. I associated pigs with filth, gluttony, and laziness, and, though incredibly friendly in Charlotte’s Web, Wilbur certainly wasn’t the brightest animal on the farm.
I was born in 1995, the year of the pig according to the chinese zodiac. While I have not seen a live pig since I last went to the county fair years ago, I still encounter remnants of the pig in the everyday. I was unaware of the full extent to which pigs are used until I saw Christien Meindertsma’s Ted talk in class this week (How Pig Parts Make the World Turn). It is enlightening to see that pigs are used for many more commodities besides meat, and it is somewhat comforting to know that almost all parts of the animal are being used.
It is not surprising that the Chinese think of “dog people” (people born in the years falling on that symbol) as loyal, brave, and ordained with a sense of justice as these are all characteristics that we can see in our own closest companions at home.1
Last week’s lecture was nothing like what I was expecting, but I can say I was delightfully pleased! Professor Vesna introduced us to the concept of the Chinese Zodiac as we feasted on foods that symbolized each one of the animals. As enjoyable (and delicious) this experience was, I left class with many questions as the topic had peaked my interest. While I knew that my birth year corresponded to the pig, it was all that I really knew with regards to the Chinese Zodiac. This prompted me to do some research on my own.
Rats have been used and disposed through millennia. Ask a physician why use rats as models for our own biological system and they will say it is because they’re so similar to us. Ask a physician why it is okay to experiment on rats and not humans and they’ll say because they are so different from us. In the lab I work in, I handle rats directly and I am often surprised at the conditions rats are to be maintained in.